Truth conditions and their recognition

In Epistemology of language. Oxford University Press (2003)
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This paper offers and defends a particular version of the view that it is the intentions with which it is performed that determine the truth conditions of an utterance. A competing version, implied by Grice's work on meaning, is rejected as inadequate. This latter is incompatible with the phenomenon of anti-lying: performing a true utterance with the intention that one's audience believe it to be false. In place of the quasi-Gricean version, the paper maintains that an utterance is true-iff-p just in case it is performed with the intention that its intended audience recognize it as true-iff-p. Delicacy is called for in the interpretation of 'recognition' if this biconditional is to be plausible. Moreover, since truth conditions are extensional and intentions intensional, this simple statement of the view requires qualification. And finally, some methodological self-awareness is needed to see off the charge of analytical circularity (since the analysans contains the analysandum). This intention-based view is proffered as an attractive and viable alternative to any view according to which the semantics of utterances are determined by the semantics of expressions, where the latter can largely float free from the intentions of a particular utterer



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Alex Barber
Open University (UK)

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